Part of Badger’s mission is to run a business that is fair, fun, and profitable. Fair because it’s right, fun because it’s good, and profitable so we can continue to do what we love!
One of the ways we run a business that is fair is by paying a living wage instead of the minimum wage.
What’s the difference between a minimum wage and living wage? Essentially, the minimum wage is the lowest hourly rate that employers are allowed by law to pay their employees. By contrast, a living wage is the amount of income sufficient for a family or individual to provide for themselves in the region where they live.
In 2015, Badger made a commitment to pay a living wage to all employees, as determined by the Monadnock Living Wage Group, a coalition of business and educational leaders (like Badger) working to make the Monadnock region a healthier place to live and work. The $15 an hour living wage is more than double the state’s current minimum wage of $7.25. We hope other businesses will join the movement toward paying a living wage.
I recently sat down with Bill, our founder, to dig deeper into our company philosophy of paying a living wage.
How is paying a living wage beneficial to Badger’s company culture?
Badger’s company culture is a curious and dynamic blend of many different kinds of people united in the goal of doing a good job for each other and for our esteemed customers. Badger’s company culture is inspired by generosity, fun is good, integrity, and respect. Paying a living wage is a part of being respectful and generous. Paying a living wage is our way of saying, “Thank you for all that you do.”
You’ve said that paying living wages is “great for our bottom line,” which might seem counterintuitive to some. Can you elaborate?
Some businesspeople think that spending less means that you make more. A logical extension is that if you pay staff as little as possible while getting them to work as hard as possible, you will maximize profits! I don’t think that works in the real world. In my opinion, the better you treat people, the more likely it is that they will return the favor. And Badger is profitable. But our bottom line is more than just maximizing profits. We actually seek to have reasonable profits! We want to also do good in the world and have fun doing it. So that’s our bottom line and the living wage is an important part of making that happen.
Was there any particular experience that inspired Badger’s support of a fair living wage? For example, did you ever have a job that was the antithesis of this?
There was a time when I was making $7.00/hr. doing dangerous carpentry and trying to support my family and three children. I remember feeling bad about myself because I was working hard and doing the best I knew how to do and I was failing. I’d like Badger to do better in supporting our workers. But I want to add that my wife and daughters, who help run Badger along with our whole leadership team, are united in this goal.
What would you say to a small business owner who wants to implement a fair minimum wage but is hesitant?
Badger didn’t always pay a fair minimum wage. Sometimes you just have to do what you need to do to make ends meet. But we always said, “Thank you!” And we always did whatever we could to support our Badger workers in having the time and flexibility to properly care for themselves and their families. We raised wages incrementally, whenever we were able. That’s still the process.
Anything else you want to add?
I think it’s important for small business owners to have a vision and an intention that goes beyond just making money. Imagine your business making money while doing good and while being a family friendly and fun place to work! Action follows vision and intention!
Share your thoughts in the comments below!